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10 People You Can Love In College

By Teo Nouve

I. The Best Friend 

The best friend will save you from your worst, and come alive at your best. At first you’ll be afraid in the best friend’s home, they’ll hold your hand. You’ll ask them to forgive you, they’ll laugh. Roughness and outsides fall into each other like the force of gravity. Softness and insides fall in line. Seeing them live is earth-shattering and it’s also easy; it reminds you of your grandmother’s old recipes. The best friend is kind, and spreads themselves all around your beating heart like honey. Hang onto their words like a prophet, stare at them until they see you back. You will not kiss them. Both of you will wonder whether you are a happy accident or inevitably, irreversibly converging bodies. You’ll discover it’s the latter. The best friend does not care how alone you are, or what you’ve done to get there. One day the best friend will need you very badly, and you will care for them. They are only seeing what you are, who you are, who you love. They are only loving you. 

II. The Lost Cause 

They will make you feel something so deep, you forget where it ends inside. You want to touch their hair and hang out. The lost cause wants to hang out. So do homework and eat ice cream together; be friends, figure them out, be available, be funny. Don’t fall in love. Fall in love. They will share some of their darkness with you and it hurts. Anyways you will fall harder. You chase them around campus without shame, wandering in and out of a song, one that gets stuck in your heads. You convince yourself you are the lost one; that they will come find you. When you wait there for a long time, you open your eyes and you see the empty street. The wind is hard and your cheeks are soft, hot, and wet. Your chest aches—you pretend it does not. You can’t find them anymore. 

III. The Devoted Follower 

A sweet soul, they remind you of something you wish you had. The devoted follower wants to be your best friend and wants to make you whole: So give them what they want, little bits of you, cookie crumb butter ball you you leave behind in traces. The follower will relish every morsel, until they’re transfixed by the taste of you. Give them their plate, fill up their glass, because it feels good. At first try to pretend that you don’t notice. Then stop pretending and comfort them: It is normal to have feelings, to be weak, to be a child. After all, you are one yourself. 

But they are not childish feelings. The devoted follower lets you see into parts of them nobody has seen before, gives themselves up for you to hold, and you accept you’ve done something terribly wrong. Try to confess, try to muster the courage to say something. Say something! Say something! They are caught in the crossfire and you are on the other end of a phone call asking them to hang up. 

Tears wash down their face and you are so selfish and you want to wipe it all away…

IV. The Stranger 

They like your skin. Not in a scary, animalistic way. It’s in a way that makes you feel like you’re wrapped in soft leaves, branches covering your private parts, gossiping with the bees. The stranger likes you for your easiest self, the one you were given at birth, and you don’t question this at all. Kiss and draw their outline in your head during class, during lunch, during — . Make your body last forever. Make sure you are both happy, and touch them without fear. Like you are diving into a volcano without fear. Like you are smiling and teasing and listening and pushing and pulling each other until there’s nothing left. Make art out of the ashes: Burn your doubt and love and pain and throw it into pottery. Fire the clay. Let your hands do the work. Take it out. Admire your talent, your suffering. Let it shatter. 

V. The Almost Yours 

They ask to come over on a weeknight. Nothing special is happening. Instead of doing your homework, you decide to hang out with 

the almost yours. This is foolish, though you couldn’t have known. They greet you and flash you with teeth, the corners of their mouth take flight, like saying hello to an old friend. 

The almost yours has perfect eyes red like mars, lips pink like grapefruit, hair like butterflies resting their wings on their cheeks warm like sunrise. You wonder if you could be soulmates. 

The almost yours is brave, pure, and their blood runs thick with love. It is like the air in the room is vibrating around you two, enough to make you dizzy. You’re having trouble getting anything done. 

The almost yours is kind, thoughtful, and they are good to you. It is like moving through mud without them. You sleep together many times. 

The almost yours is honest, free, and kisses you like you are running out of time. In your dreams you starve. They are needing you and you have to be brave. You wake up sweaty and confused. 

The almost yours is still asking for your help, but you are too scared to do anything. You run to get help; it is too late. 

The almost yours is no longer yours. Somebody else has found them and been brave. Try wishing yourself into their arms. When this doesn’t work, watch from afar and shed your love. 

VI. The Wreck 

Sometimes you think you will disappear completely and forever be still; this is a good thing. Remember when your mother read you fairy tales and they needed you. Now when you sleep your veins rush with blood and your brain pleads you to run. Remember when as a child you went to pick berries and you cut your hand on the thorny bush. You are half of a wish for a meaningful life with a happy ending—like the bloody half-chewed berry dripping down your chin. Every day you narrowly escape disaster, until it is like brushing your teeth. You need the fairy tale; it is needing you.

Sometimes you stare at yourself in the mirror and try to disappear completely. You need to cast a spell where you clap three times and become invisible. One—But each time you try, you become brighter and brighter. Two—You try to look away but light fills your vision until everything is like the color of you (blinding gold) gleaming, reflected across the room. Three-And your skin is hot and you are breathless and out of control and you love it. Open your eyes. You are the wreck you love. 

VII. The Memory Boy 

He is the boy on TV you imagined yourself being friends with. Except he is not on TV, but a man with teeth and muscle and bone. One day find yourself eager, looking for somebody to play with. The boy agrees and he lets you ask him a lot of questions. You learn his favorite color is orange, how he likes being touched, and his last name—it is not what you expected; he is afraid to love another boy. Anyways you keep asking. You will leave this boy in your hometown and you will forget his name, his body, his orange... 

One day you will return and he will pretend that you are strangers. That you didn’t leave the equivalence of a footprint in his cement memory. When you see him you are a child again and he is afraid again. This time he will ask you questions: What is it like? What are you doing? Do you miss me? You can’t answer him because you don’t want him to hurt you in an accident (you cannot say I love you). Instead, laugh and kiss each other in each other’s memory. 

VIII. The One Who You Forgot to Love 

You are unwell. The world does not know what you want; only you do. You walk into alleyways to see if there is anything left there. You are hoping for something to fall and hit you on the head, hard enough to knock you out. The spirit fights to find a place far away. You beg the spirit to stay, but cannot find it in you; you are too afraid to die and be buried in the ground. You must leave… must run, as did your fathers before. 

They met you in a whirlwind, bodies stuck together by accident. They started making you feel again. They take your love carefully, like a reward. They are gentle with you, like a kid. When you ask them a question they answer you. They let you be childish. They love you without hesitation. They change for you, they make things right. You are unwell. They let you let go of them. Cling on they do. The one who you forgot to love is still in love with you (and in some way, you are, too). 

IX. The Adult Babies 

The adult babies are needy and look weak to you. Craving attention, the girl will call you up at night and ask you what you are doing and if you are all right, etc… The boy will not admit it, though he longs to see you too. You discover the courage to return to home. The adult babies are making a mess and can’t clean it up. They are lonely without you, they are trying to survive without any help. When you were a baby, you used to be their reason for life. Now when they speak to you sometimes there is acid in their words. But swallow it with pride—This is family. Do not ask questions without permission. Make a promise to be their teacher, to give them purpose. Take care of them better than they took care of you. Accept this role with passion, with dignity. Love them deeply and sincerely, like an ancient dance. Try not to miss them too much, convince them to let go of you. Write a poem about how much you love them. So they will not doubt you; so they will remember. Talk about movies for hours because you have nothing in common… They are perfect because you did not choose them. 

X. The one you haven't loved yet 

With a funny look on their face, yesterday they passed you on the street, and you felt their body pressing against yours. Tomorrow you will race to get the bus because the driver did not see you. Somebody on the bus will see the evening light reflected across your face, and they will ask them to stop for you. A year ago you ate breakfast and your waiter thought you were the most beautiful thing he had ever seen his whole life. He was so afraid to tell you, but he smiled when you were leaving. When you are thirty you will stop in a bar on the roadside because it is raining like crazy. She will stand there with a small bag that is soaked, and great big glasses that are completely crooked, and it will be so funny that you spend the night together. Or when you are forty, and in the window of your apartment you see a man who cannot carry his grocery bags. The first time, you won’t care enough to help, or the second. The eighth time you will fall in love. Or when you’re old, and he’s dead. You reach out to someone who used to love you—they are still there. They share with you, and offer you their forgiveness. 

And you walk through the dark together.

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